New research shows procrastination is bad for our health

Durham University

A woman looking stressed out with her hand over her face

A new study involving hundreds of university students has shown that procrastination can lead to poor health over time. 

The research has been led by Professor Fuschia Sirois from our top-rated Psychology Department and co-authored by Dr Christopher Stride of Sheffield University’s Institute of Work Psychology and Dr Timothy Pychyl from the Department of Psychology at Carleton University, Canada. 

Does procrastination really affect health?

The study involved 379 Canadian university students who were monitored over the course of five months. 

The students were asked how often they procrastinated in all areas of life and were asked to rate their stress, health behaviours, and health problems across three time points. 

Researchers found that those who procrastinated the most also reported feeling poorly more often, with ailments ranging from headaches to colds, and aches and pains.  

They also reported experiencing more stress, and practicing fewer healthy behaviours, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.  

Addressing procrastination

The work supports Professor Sirois’s theory that procrastination leads to elevated stress levels which in turn leads to ill health. 

It also highlights the need to develop techniques to combat procrastination, particularly among younger people, as they are at risk of potentially serious health problems if they go on to procrastinate throughout their lives. 

Professor Sirois says that procrastination is caused by ineffective emotion management, rather than being about laziness or poor time management.

It can be addressed through adopting certain mindfulness techniques. 

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